Young Adult Novels depicting Mental Illness in the English Subject Classroom
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To employ complete novels in teaching is often seen as an extensive task and is therefore avoided by some teachers. This thesis looks at ways to implement novels on the mental health disorders, in particular depression, eating disorders, and anxiety disorders. I will show how teachers can use the novels All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Starvation by Molly Fennig, and Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley in their teaching. To ensure working with topics on mental illnesses in a helpful way, teachers will have to know the generation they have in their classroom. I will therefore analyse the Ungdata 2022 report (Bakken, 2022) and the Public Health report (Bang et al., 2023) to see how the state of mental health is among students today. I will investigate how using these novels in teaching can provide students with mental health literacy to make them understand and master such issues should they occur to themselves or someone they know. It is important to figure out how to proceed with teaching these matters without doing more harm than good. The analysis of the novels will examine how students are likely to respond to the novels and how they can learn about mental illnesses in a rewarding way. With help from the English subject curriculum this thesis will discuss in what ways matters of mental health and fiction may be used in the English subject classroom. Furthermore, since not all students like to read, I believe it to be relevant to investigate how to implement longer texts in the English subject classroom. The novels I have chosen will be included in this discussion. Based on my book analysis, document analysis, and discussion of implementation in the classroom, some of my conclusion involves a proposition on the use of brave space, a concept where students should not be afraid to speak their mind. In addition, I conclude that the proposed novels can help students develop mental health literacy and I provide examples on how these novels provide knowledge needed to lessen mental health stigma and how to act should they find themselves in difficult situations.